Speech of the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the opening ceremony of the Bina International Airport in Baku - September 30, 1999

Dear sisters and brothers!

Dear guests!

Messrs. ambassadors!

I warmly greet all of you and wish you all the best.

Today a remarkable event is taking place in the life of the Azerbaijani nation and people. We are at the ceremony of completion of the construction and opening ceremony of the international airport which meets the international standards, which is a gate of Azerbaijan to the world, capable to render all kind of services for the international ties of our country.

On this occasion, I congratulate you, the Azerbaijani people, all our citizens, the staff of the civil aviation, its administration and all the employees of it. I hope that this beautiful airport complex will render great services to the independent Azerbaijan now and in future.  

Completion of the construction of Baku International Airport and its opening today magnificently demonstrates the advancement in every sphere of the life of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan makes great changes in its economy as an independent nation. The process of establishment of judicial, democratic and secular state is under way in Azerbaijan. Economic, social and political reforms are implemented in our country. A policy of free economy, creating opportunities for entrepreneurship is conducted in Azerbaijan. Market economy, free economy is the present and future of Azerbaijan. 

One of our main tasks in this process is cooperation with various nations and financial centers of the world in order to resolve our social and economic issues. Today, I can say with great pleasure that we carry out these tasks successfully. The grandiose building of the international airport complex, Baku International Airport, and modern equipments and devices for its exploitation are an example of this. This is one of the contributions of the Azerbaijani government, state to the nation for today and future.

In the recent years, pursuing the path of independence, Azerbaijan has realized a number of constructions of great importance despite hardships and given them for public use. But I can say with great confidence that the international airport complex which we are opening today is the best of them.

The reason is that it will serve every citizen of Azerbaijan. To serve the people, citizens, to create conditions for their free movement wherever they want is one of the main tasks of the Azerbaijani government. As a free, open and independent nation, Azerbaijan maintains relations with all the nations of the world and these relations are held both by the official bodies, private sector and different citizens. The civil aviation is first to do this. Because, if there is no civil aviation, then to travel and holding contacts and doing efficient business will be impossible.

 Development of the civil aviation in the past 50 years, as the most important transport system in the world transport, is a historic event. Azerbaijan lived through this period and still goes on. That is why to create grounds for functioning, development and efficient activity of the civil aviation in Azerbaijan is one of the conditions. Taking into account these conditions, we succeeded in completion of the construction of Baku International Complex within a short period. 

This airport complex has a great history. Its main foundation was laid in 1981. Until then, our republic was using the airport built in 1964, I want to come back to history, but there was a small airport 2-3 km away. Undoubtedly, it was not capable to render necessary service to Azerbaijan. I think that the complex built in 1964, was a big event due to demands of that time. It served the Azerbaijani people. But in 1970s, we felt that it does not meet the demands of present and future of Azerbaijan. That is why, we thought of the construction of an airport complex meet the modern standards and necessary for the future of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan was not an independent state then. It was a part of the Soviet Union. Civil aviation was a centralized body. Civil Aviation Ministry in Moscow was responsible for all the civil aviation of the Soviet Union and directed this. Thus, we faced many hardships to do this work, because this had to be financed from the budget of the soviet government. We conducted negotiations for several years. Finally, we received a consent for it at the end of 1970. The civil Aviation Ministry of the USSR gave its consent to the construction of an international airport in Azerbaijan. Its project was prepared. It was prepared by “Airproject” agency subject to the Civil Aviation Ministry of the USSR. But we seized the opportunity and began to do the business ourselves. We assured the participation of both civil aviation employees and other agencies of Azerbaijan, including constructors. Thus, some projects were prepared and we discussed them here in 1981. I decided to implement this project namely in Azerbaijan.

Eighteen years have passed since. We faced further hardships then. The project was approved, but it needed funding. Our efforts for this every year failed. Finally, I, working as a deputy prime minister of the Soviet Union and being in charge of the whole transport of the Soviet Union, including civil aviation, succeeded in taking an urgent decision to begin the construction of this airport complex in 1985 and it started.

The construction started and went on rapidly for some time. But unfortunately, this construction completely stopped as a result of the internal situation in Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani authorities failing to lead the country. Since then, until 1996, no works were done. But in 1996, after some years of our independence, having opportunities, we adopted a decision to complete the construction of this airport complex and began to implement this.

Evidently, we could not do this work on our own. That is why we needed foreign investment for this. Highly experienced companies able to do such constructions were needed. We actively worked on this and as a result a consortium was established and this consortium succeeded in the completion of the construction of this airport complex within a short period.

All this indicates that as an independent state, master of its own destiny, Azerbaijan determines most important issues as priorities and does substantial work in the implementation of them within a short period. We achieved this. 

It is necessary to note that we started to cooperate with a number of foreign companies, financial centers and countries in this field. First we cooperated with the Republic of Turkey. Had not the Turkish companies as “Burc-Enka” and “Eximbank” joined this work, it would have not been possible to do this. The British government and private companies and financial centers also played an important role in this. Had not they joined this work together with Turkey, it would have not been possible to complete it.

Thus, Azerbaijan both acquired finance to build this airport complex and received sophisticated devices and equipment of high standards and for conducting the construction works on high level. Normally, all this work was done together with various organizations of Azerbaijan. Employees of civil aviation of Azerbaijan, State Concern of “Azal”, especially with various construction companies of Azerbaijan, all together completed this big construction. I came here in March to see the work. I indeed felt that a magnificent airport complex was emerging here. But undoubtedly, there were shortcomings and problems as well. We conducted negotiations to eliminate them here and discussed a number of other issues. I am pleased that I was informed that all shortcomings have been moved and the international airport is presented to us, all the citizens of Azerbaijan gathered here. 

I would like to note the role of the Republic of Turkey in the construction especially. I want to declare that we were to hold this opening ceremony with the President of the Republic of Turkey, a great friend of the Azerbaijani nation, my dear brother Suleyman Demirel. But he cannot leave his country due to the reasons known to you and he is busy with resolving the problems there. That is why, he called to me today and said that he has sent a high level delegation on the ministerial level here, conveyed his congratulations and asked me to give his best regards and wishes to you, to the Azerbaijani people.

We have accomplished a great job. I thank all the agencies, companies and people who took part in the construction of this airport complex. |I especially thank the Turkish “Burc-Enka” company and “Eximbank”. The Azerbaijani construction companies have always done great jobs and acquired rich experience. I sincerely thank all the construction companies taken part in this work.

I thank all the employees of the civil aviation and the administration of “Azal” for the completion of this work.

Dear friends!

I gave information on the history of the construction of this complex. But I want also to note that in 1981, when taking a decision on the construction of Baku International Airport complex, we also were thinking of today, incoming independence and freedom of Azerbaijan. Not only then, but before, we were considering the development of the civil aviation of Azerbaijan as our special task. You have to know that in the 1950s-1960s, 1970s, even 1980s there were very few national specialists in the civil aviation system of Azerbaijan. Pilots and engineers who worked here were of other nations. Thus, one of the main tasks facing us was to train local specialists in the civil aviation of Azerbaijan.

We started this job. We planned to train of national cadres, engineers, technicians and other specialists with high education and for this purpose, sent the young Azerbaijanis to civil aviation schools in various cities of the Soviet Union. This is an example that we were thinking of the future of Azerbaijan. Yes, we were considering that Azerbaijan must ensure its national identity. Undoubtedly, Azerbaijan is the motherland of all its citizens, irrespective of their nationality and religion. But Azerbaijan is Azerbaijan and national specialists in Azerbaijan must be also the Azerbaijanis and work in all the spheres.  

We started all this 30 years ago. I am happy that all this has yielded its results today. I am happy that there are national specialists, Azerbaijani pilots, engineers in the civil aviation of Azerbaijan and they will advance civil aviation of Azerbaijan today and in the future.

Dear friends!

When laying the foundation of this complex in 1981, I was thinking that it is necessary to complete this withiin a short period and ensure its service for the demands of Azerbaijan. But unfortunately, construction of the complex was dragged out.

I am also happy today that I have laid the foundation of this complex in 1981 and organized the construction in 1985 and while no works were done then, I ensured the completion and operation of this complex on a high level.

God Almighty has bestowed a very interesting destiny on me. All my life has been in the service of the people of Azerbaijan. But there were also dark pages along with the white ones in my life. In those hard years, I was sometimes thought that all the work done for Azerbaijan by me was in vain. But I am happy today. I am very thankful to God for my destiny today. I am thankful to God Almighty for that I survived and now I am together with the people of Azerbaijan and we are rendering this valuable contribution to the people of Azerbaijan.

Thanks to the operation of this airport complex, the ties of Azerbaijan with overseas will be boosted. I am confident that the airport complex will be used and exploited magnificently as it looks like. We present to the civil aviation of Azerbaijan, to “Azal” an airport complex which is priceless and lovely for all of us. Their task is to use it efficiently and preserve it as apple of their eyes. They must always carefully approach to all the work here. The task is that every person visiting our country must feel comfortable in this airport complex. The task is that every citizen of Azerbaijan use this complex efficiently. I hope that the Civil Aviation of Azerbaijan, “Azal” will do this job successfully and make us happy in its future activities.

Dear friends, I am very pleased to see you here. I thank all of our guests. I thank them all for their valuable speeches here. I more again congratulate all of you, the people of Azerbaijan on the occasion of this remarkable event. I wish bright future, independence and advancement to the people of Azerbaijan!

“Azerbaijan” newspaper, October 1, 1999.